Some TN Opinions

State Sales Tax Hike? ‘Ridiculous,’ Says Ramsey
In Washington County, a proposal to raise the local sales tax is being floated. As Robert Houk sees it, one of the arguments by proponents is misguided.
School board members and at least one city commissioner have said hiking the local rate would be a defensive move. They fear the state General Assembly might decide to raise the state’s rate to the maximum and keep all the revenues in Nashville.
It’s an argument that has been used before to try to convince voters to raise the local sales tax rate. It’s also one that has failed to make a difference at the ballot box…In each of those (past county) referendums, proponents said the state was just itching to keep the remaining portion of the local option in Nashville. Doing so would constitute a state tax increase, and legislative leaders I’ve spoken to say that’s not going to happen on their watch.
In fact, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, told me last week it’s “ridiculous” to think so. “I’ve heard that argument before, but it’s never been discussed in Nashville,” Ramsey said.
He said the idea of raising the sales tax is not even on the radar screen. He said the Republican-led General Assembly has already made massive cuts to balance the state budget and is “prepared to make even more if necessary.”
Talk of a tax increase is poison to Republican lawmakers. Many of them have signed irresponsible anti-tax increase pledges that could be used against them come re-election time if they were to go back on their promises. Regardless of what you think of the Republican stand on taxes, the GOP is a disciplined party that punishes any members who dare go astray.

Tort Reform Not Conservative?
From a Tennessean op-ed by attorney Gary Blackburn:
A General Assembly with a lieutenant governor who threatened to give the “boot” to the federal government has commanded the enforcement of a purely procedural standard on dismissal of lawsuits adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court rather than that adopted by the Tennessee Supreme Court, because it strengthens the opportunity of wealthy defendants to deprive citizens the right to a jury trial in meritorious cases.
A few years ago, Nashville had a businessman who would disassemble your transmission, demand an exorbitant price, and when you refused to pay, hand you a box of parts. He and his company were repeatedly sued for “unfair and deceptive trade practices” under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. No more. If you experience that or any of a myriad of consumer outrages, your only unlikely alternative is to get the overburdened Tennessee attorney general’s office to pursue your claim. The bat is removed from the hands of your own attorney.
Access to our courts derived from the Magna Carta and embedded in our Constitution since 1796 is under siege by people claiming to be “conservatives.”
True conservatives preserve ancient rules and institutions, which are the product of experience. True “conservatives” are not proponents of capricious and motivated change.

Re-evaluating Teacher Evaluations
Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system needs re-evaluating, says Gail Kerr.
If it were just a few grousers weighing in, negative reviews would be easy to shrug off — the new system is designed, after all, to root out bad teachers who have been allowed to continue year after year.
But teachers are complaining in droves, many of them in tears, that the new system is “overwhelming” them with paperwork that is distracting them from actually teaching students. Worse, teachers are quitting over it.

Fighting Over Family Planning Money
A Sunday column by Wendi C. Thomas starts like this:
I have nothing but respect for the righteous work that Christ Community Health Services does. The workers live their faith by caring for the poor and are irreplaceable.
But — and you knew there was a but coming — so is Planned Parenthood.
Across the country, hundreds of thousands of women, including me, can thank Planned Parenthood for keeping us healthy when we had no access to reproductive care.
But politics has unfortunately pitted the two against each other, in a fight for federal family-planning dollars before the Shelby County Commission. Stuck in the middle are thousands of Memphis women who could go without care or information on all reproductive choices.
Christ Community and Planned Parenthood are in the running to receive a Title X family planning grant to be administered by the county health department, a grant that had historically gone to Planned Parenthood.
But when the state legislature went GOP, the party set as its mission the destruction of Planned Parenthood, even though not a cent of public dollars has ever gone to abortion services.

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